Trying to get a regular feeding scheme down with your newborn can be tough work at times. From finding a latch and suckle harmony, to learning what formulas work for your infant - there's a lot to navigate in the early stages. And just when you've found your groove, your paediatrician recommends starting solids at around four to six months of age.
But you needn't fret. There are tried and tested ways to slowly introduce your baby to solids that will make the experience a breeze for both you and your little one. If you ever feel uncertain, talk to your paediatrician to find out when you should start your baby's solids journey, how best to allergy test foods, and when to start switching things up.
Before you get into exploring the solid food world with your growing baby, here are some known foods to put on hold and avoid until your baby has turned one-years old - it’s also best to test these foods alongside your paediatrician and with their consultation:
- Allergens like peanuts, eggs, and fish - many paediatricians will guide you through allergy testing and guide you through that process or conduct a patch test for allergies when your baby’s grown enough.
- Honey - this is due to the repeated link found between honey consumption and infant botulism found in babies under 12 months of age.
- Cow’s Milk - used in cooking or baking is fine, but when it comes to milk in its natural form, it’s best to stick to the breast or formula your baby is accustomed to.
- Choking hazards like nuts, seeds, raisins, hard candy, grapes, hard raw vegetables, popcorn, peanut butter, and hot dogs.
Now that you know some key foods to avoid initially and to test alongside the experience of your paediatrician, here’s what you need to know about introducing solids to your baby that’ll keep you both excited for food time:
Start soft (4 - 6 months)
When it comes to solids, it’s best to transition from a full milk-based diet to a solid diet by starting with soft and blended foods like rice cereals and purees. Once your baby is comfortable with ingesting rice cereal, you can start adding other flavours - such as pureed fruits and veggies. You don’t need to stock up on store-bought purees but can also make your own at home and store them in bulk. This will save you quite a bit on costs and time by preparing them ahead of time.
It’s best to try and introduce flavours and solids slowly. Experts recommend feeding your baby about 1 to 2 teaspoons twice a day to get them familiar with the textures and flavours, as they also still have their milk feeding schedules to consider. It’s suggested to let your baby lead on how much to feed them rather than forcing more than they’re comfortable with. As always, if you feel confused - consult your paediatrician to help guide you on the process.
Tried and tested recipes include using butternut, bananas, avocados, potatoes, touches of blended pieces of meat or poultry as they get more comfortable with the different flavours, but these are just guides.
All aboard the chew express (7 - 9 months)
As your baby gets older and reaches the second phase of their solids journey, you’re able to start pairing sweet and savoury dishes together for them to enjoy. Whether it’s some mashed veggies followed by a mashed-up fruit like bananas, it’s a great way to ensure that your infant gets a variety of flavours to avoid becoming easily bored at mealtimes.
At this age, you should start helping your baby learn how to chew as more of their teeth start coming in. The food you prepare can start being lumpier in texture and even include fun finger foods like strips of toast, peeled fruit slices, and soft-cooked veggies - just be sure to monitor and guide them as they learn to eat these foods.
A seat at the table (9 - 12 months)
By this age, your baby is ready to enjoy baby-friendly variations of the regular family meals (excluding the aforementioned foods to introduce only after 12 months). You can make mini versions of your family meals that are chopped or minced and not as spicy for your baby to enjoy and even try baby-led feeding by using their own little spoon and bowl. You can plate their foods in a fun and creative way when it comes to adding peeled and chop fruits on top of strips of toast to make the food look fun and tasty for your baby to want to enjoy.
At this age, you should also start getting your baby used to a sippy cup with some water or organic juices at mealtimes at this stage. Most of their iron intake will be coming from solids as they only have about 3 milk feeds by this stage, so it’s best to start incorporating, more regularly, pieces of cut up or shredded poultry, meat, fish, and veggies into their meals.
As you go through the solids journey, you’ll notice which foods are wins and which ones are losses when it comes to what your baby enjoys eating. This will also help you know how best to prepare meals for them and lets you have fun with plating their favourite dishes in creative ways.
When introducing solids, it’s best to establish a mealtime routine early on and stick to those set times. These food tips and staying in contact with your paediatrician as you navigate the world of solids can have your baby happily eating at the big table with ease and confidence as they grow into toddlerhood.
This post was sponsored by Panado and produced by Adspace Studio.